Dead of Night (1945) review

A film about an architect, Walter Craig, who goes to a country house party to look at a job, however, despite never having been there before nor meeting any of the people there either, he feels as if he has, in a dream that he keeps having.

The film starts off with Walter telling everyone he meets about the dream he has, and all but one, the Doctor, Dr. Van Straaten, believes him. They believe him because they all have had an encounter with the supernatural, and start to tell everyone their own tale.

The film has a lot of styles within the stories, this might be explained by each story having its own director and different writer, dealing with gothic horror, psychological horror, featuring ghosts, possession, premonitions, and others. One of the stories is even more of a comedy than a horror, which is also one of my favourites, as it features a ghost who returns to haunt a cheater, only to end up stuck with his victim and ends up being more of a nuisance than a threat.

How the movie goes from the present to the past is simply a back and forward tactic, of how each person tells their story, for it to switch back to the present where another piece of Walters dream comes true, and no matter what they do, they can’t seem to alter its course.

The tension and suspense is felt throughout the film, slowly getting closer to the ending of Walters dream. The pacing is great, no story feels like it’s too short or too long, and each one is interesting enough that you don’t want it to end to move on to the main plot or another story.

Throughout the anthology you never feel that the film rushes itself, it takes it’s time to set the mood, and gives you horror not through jump scares, through gore or disturbing imagery, but through subtlety, through the settings, through the tones, it’s details and what is mostly relatable, of simple things, which can be scary, like mirrors, dummies, and maybe the most scary, questioning your mind.

The film is excellent in how it tells itself, how it brings the everyday things we see into unnerving and even scary levels of horror. It shows that everyone in this movie, even the sceptic, might have had a brush with the supernatural, but all the stories can also be seen as someone who is going insane. How can you tell is you’re seeing a ghost, or hallucinating? This’s a question that the film poses, can you trust your mind, especially when you’re dealing with the supernatural.


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